अम्बरनाथ Ambernath (ABH): A century-old water dam at Ambernath, that had been set up by the the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR) which is called as Central Railway now, has been revived and turned into a Railway water bottling plant that will produce two lakh bottles a day.
Branded as ‘Rail Neer’, the bottles will be sold in trains and at all stations. This is the Indian Railways’ fourth such bottling plant and the first in the western region – the other three being those located at Nangloi (Delhi) in the north, Danapur (Patna) in the east, and Palur (Chennai) in the south.
The plant was recently inaugurated by Minister of Railways Sadanand Gowda, via remote control on August 13, 2014.
Built circa 1915, the dam was originally used to store and supply water for steam locomotives. Since 1997, however, it has been lying unused.
Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation said that the Ambernath Dam facility will have a full-fledged bottling plant. This will include a water treatment facility, rinsing, filling and capping, coding, labelling and packing machines, besides conveyors, chillers and a cooling tower with storage facilities for four to five days’ production.
“Laboratory facilities with all instruments and equipment for inhouse testing and analysis have also been set up. The plant will produce about two lakh bottles of one litre capacity per day, which will be around 16,667 cartons with each having 12 bottles,” a senior official said.
Local villagers of Ambernath and Kalyan, however, are not quite happy that the plant is set to start functioning. For years they had been demanding that water from the dam be released for various purposes in their hamlets, but the Railways obviously had other plans.
“It seems we have lost the battle to the water bottle. The villagers still need additional water supply, but now plan to tap other resources,” Sunil Chaudhary, president of Ambernath Municipal Council, told.
“We tried to convince the Railways. I even raised the issue in the Maharashtra legislature seeking help of the State Government,” said Ambernath MLA Balaji Kinikar. “But ultimately the dam belongs to the Railways and they are the decision makers,” he added.
Watering of Steam Locomotives near the Ambarnath Dam by GIPR
Indian Railways stopped steam locomotives production in 1970 and by 1985, all the the existing steam locomotives were gradually phased out. Till 1997, around 75 steam engines were still used. But now, their usage has been totally stopped for passenger and freight purposes. They run only on heritage routes.